How great would it be if you had certified brand evangelists that consistently touted your product or service? Well, effectively creating a channel partner program will create just that. Finding super user consultancies or agencies can go a long way to drive significant referral leads and downstream revenue. Effective, is the operative word here, because making a partner program actually valuable to your partners takes a lot of work, and this is what Angela Labrozzi, from Within3 did.

What you’ll learn in this episode:

  • How to decide what initiatives and benefits to include as part of your program
  • How to select participants for the initial pilot of the partner program
  • How to nurture partner contacts and keep them engaged
  • How to get internal buy-in and help with getting the program launched
  • How to decide whether your certification program should be free or paid

Angela’s recommendations:

  1. Start with a pilot program of existing evangelists – people who are already referring you business without the program
  2. Make sure to consistently ask for feedback from your partners and keep optimizing your program
  3. Revshare doesn’t have to be part of the program for it to be successful. It all depends on what you are trying to achieve and what behaviors you want to incentivize
  4. Check in with partner contacts personally on a quarterly basis
  5. Make sure you have internal buy-in from sales, marketing and account teams and align on the objectives of the program
  6. Double-down on events and co-marketing opportunities for your partners

You’ll need to listen to the full episode if you want to hear the Lightning Round, but here are a few highlights:

  • Angela is going to be testing LinkedIn’s showcase pages to populate unique content for the partner program
  • Angela hates the word “buckets” in the business setting

Proofpoint’s POV:

Software partner programs are a dime a dozen. Just about every SaaS company has a partner program. However, many of them are not very successful. Many companies have either focus too much on revshare incentives or a “if you build it, they will come” mentality. The former will often have the opposite effect because you end up attracting the wrong kinds of partners. The latter often just fails because of a lack of interest.

Interestingly, as we at Proofpoint are working on building out our partner program, we are finding that many people have become jaded about the concept. Many have been burned, likely by one of the above, and are reluctant to commit to anything.

Oftentimes, these programs start with a lot of fanfare and excitement and then burn out. The reason is that the partner relationships are often not nurtured. They start out great, with the company keeping in constant contact and providing extra value, but over time it seems to peter out, at least until there is a major revenue push at the end of the quarter.

All of that is to say, we are believers in partnership programs, since we do want to create our own, but you really do need to treat these programs just like every other part of your marketing. You have to deeply understand your customers – in this case your partners – and you need to consistently get their feedback and evolve your program offering accordingly.

A bit more about Angela:

Angela is a healthcare marketing expert, specifically specializing in partner programs. Angela is especially passionate about great swag–or at least avoiding cheap, crappy swag.

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